The Future of Work: Fact or Fantasy?

If you’re starting here, you might want to roll back a couple of episodes for the full context, but all my thinking about how the Internet of Things, the Future of Work, and Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll all interrelate started with a DisrupTV guest spot, during which hosts Ray Wang and Vala Afshar cornered me into talking about the podcasting industry. (Yes, they know me well. Very well. And yes they are very, very smart.) But I never let any bits of good material go to waste so, we’re just popping it right in here so you can read it in one swipe or tidbit by tidbit.

So, when you think about the future, you may have money now, but you still can’t take it with you (although someone might be working on this someplace, probably the Very Dark Web). But if you have babies, your DNA lives on. It used to be taken for granted that you could have it all, that is, be a parent and have an interesting job. (Full disclosure: when I was having babies, that last sentence applied much more to parents of the male variety. I’m not sure if that’s really changed, but I can hope, right?)

The Future of Work, aka FoW, is going to sneak up on a lot of people, just like the digital divide did. But, I think it will be worse, because if we don’t think of jobs for ALL people – even the ones who don’t have the educational background, or skills, or they just don’t look like we think they should look like for the job – we are going to have a lot of people who won’t be doing well. That’s where revolutions come from. You don’t have to go back to the Boston Tea Party. Remember Occupy Wall Street? That failed only because there wasn’t leadership and there weren’t enough people willing to put what little they had at risk. That can change fast. How many college grads do you know who are looking for a leadership position and because of the guy in the last episode of this blog, won’t even get to be Chief Barista? I know too many. They’re smart, they’re creative, but the gig economy is here to stay.

But what of the career ladder and management training and all those other ‘playing field levelers’ we’re supposed to be supporting, you may ask. Well, if Ray’s right (and he often is) they could likely end up mere frills in the economic future. Maybe it will be like paying off HR to deal with the boring stuff governments are always coming up with (‘compliance’) in exchange for getting the chance to run an underfunded program that won’t have budget for the usual analysis, synthesis, etc, etc, that can possibly lead to change. NOTE: that is my opinion, not necessarily Ray’s. If you want to know all about his current research, feel free to tweet him to get that next book out pronto!

But as far as my view of FoW goes, the power will not be to (all) the people, unless someone takes open competitive markets seriously. Very seriously, SCOTUS. And, more important, you who will elect those who do the critical FoW of the judiciary.

Someone who read this (I usually ask at least one person to do a quick read, just in case I accidentally say something non-controversial) said to me, this is really a downer. Are you sure you want to end on such a negative note?

My answer? To me, this is just about as positive as you can get. It’s your future, and you get to vote on it. What could be more positive? The power is yours – and the younger you are, the more times you will have to exercise it.

Start those pushups. And pushouts.

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